\\ May I: Gufy and Becky notable performance on mental health

Award-winning Kenyan poets stage one of the best poetry showcase in Nairobi highlighting issues around mental health

Ever since his debut album Misimu, and the conversation that arose post the album launch, Kenyan poet Gufydox has been on the steadfast passionately spreading the seeds of hope to those in despair. Misimu is Gufy’s maiden album that was launched online in August 2016. The unique launch and the conversation that followed, touching on painful memories brought life to the suffering out there. In #Misimuzangu, which loosely translates to ‘my seasons’, Gufy ignited a fire around sharing is healing which was well received online given the anonymity that comes with online stories. The act that is Gufy was now well formed in character and substance.

Fast-forward to 2018 and the month of May gave Gufy who teamed up with Becky, the 2017 Slam Africa Poetry festival winner a chance to touch on, as it were, yet another sensitive topic- Mental Health. May has been a Mental Health Awareness Month since 1949 when it was first celebrated in the US. Coincidentally, my people back at my beloved village believe that May is the month when many of the docile bipolar disorder individuals react. This, according to ‘village psychiatrists,’ is believed to be the effect of maize pollen grains which are believed to escalate such situations. But that is neither here or there. Gufy and Becky, using their wit, charm and wordplay would regale the audience with music infused spoken word showcase dubbed; ‘May I’ at The Elephant in Nairobi on May 26th.

Becky Performance

Despite the chilly cloudy weather, crowds thronged the soggy gardens donning hoodies and hats. Given the torrential rains in Nairobi, one would have expected the often rain jittery Nairobians to remain ensconced at the warmth of their four walls but not when Gufy is performing.

In the open gardens, embraced by a towering tent and salient trees, the crowd- which is usually animated at such events- silently drunk in the nostalgic poetry that the duo rendered. In the sky- where eyes would apprehensively dart- the eagle and the crow made rounds trying to make ends meet while in the bushes around the speckled mouse bird, weaver and the common bulbul bird added their rendition to the guitar riffs and key notes. 

The performance which involved the collective input of Eddy on the Keys Shilla and Zosi on backing vocals was nothing but spectacular. The poets made sure that they touched on the emotional, the physical and the waning political will to fight for what is right.

They observed how wrong has become right and how right has become an act of cowardice or betrayal. And as they ushered the day home, the acts pledged that  May I, will be a movement to create awareness around mental health awareness and an open forum where those bereft of a chance to share could find a home to freely share about their own struggle with mental health issues.


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